Review of THE PLEASURE OF HER KISS by Linda Needham (see her website)
Avon, November 2003
Two years after his wedding, Jared, Earl of Hawkesly is ready to go home and set about bedding his wife. He expects a compliant young woman and is surprised to discover that Kate has turned his hunting lodge into a tavern, runs an orphanage in his home, and has sold his Turners and other valuables to support her project. Since Kate doesn't even recognize him, Jared adopts an assumed identity in order to discover the truth.
Touched by the terrible potato famine which is depopulating Ireland, Kate has bent all of her resources to saving the Irish. To some extent, that means feeding the nine children she has personally accepted. But to a larger extent, that means stealing grain from the British lords who import food from Ireland despite the mass starvation on that island, returning it to feed the poor. Despite Jared's arrival, Kate is completely unwilling to give up her family and her vocation. What she doesn't count on is that Jared was made Earl because he is a spy for Her Magisty, Victoria's government. Caught in an impass, Kate refuses to consumate her marriage with Jared until he agrees to a good home for the children--and when he finds one, demands that he adopt them. Even then, she keeps her terrible secret--that she is a thief and has involved Jared's ship in action that is illegal and maybe treason.
THE PLEASURE OF HER KISS is an interesting novel. Author Linda Needham's style is approachable and her love scenes sizzle. But both primary characters' logic seems badly warped. Why did Jared wait two years to claim his wife? He never explained, and Kate, oddly enough, never asked. Then too, Jared's decision to go undercover to discover what his wife was up to makes no sense. Why wouldn't he identify himself and call for an explanation. Certainly if he had gone undercover, wouldn't he have investigated instead of gone fishing? The book read as if Needham needed a story hook--and mistaken identity was the one that came up in her whack-pack.
Kate's decision to use theft to supply her Irish soup kitchens simply defies logic. Surely her goal is to save the starving Irish. And surely she knows that she'll be caught eventually if she insists on stealing. If she had already attempted to raise British sympathies and been turned down, perhaps the theft would be more sympathetic.
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